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Trade Deadline: Astros reportedly will not deal Hunter Pence

07.25.11 at 1:50 pm ET
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According to a tweet from SI’s Jon Heyman, the Astros are saying they will not trade outfielder Hunter Pence. Tweeted Heyman: he’s face of franchise, fine example for young players. Heyman added that the Astros felt obligated to listen to offers because they need to rebuild, but they consider Pence to be their best player.

Heyman reports that the Phillies, Braves and Pirates have all showed interest in the outfielder.

Last week, the Houston Chronicle reported that the Astros were “willing” and “expected” to trade Pence. That report stated the Red Sox, among other teams could be interested in the young outfielder.

Pence played in his first All-Star Game earlier this month and is batting .308 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Hunter Pence,

Trade Deadline: Yankees pursuing White Sox’s Edwin Jackson and Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda?

07.25.11 at 1:06 pm ET
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Based on recent activity, the Yankees may be looking to overhaul their pitching rotation. New York has reportedly joined the hunt for Hiroki Kuroda, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted Monday. Meanwhile, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweeted Monday that the Yankees sent a scout to watch the White Sox’s Edwin Jackson beat the Indians Sunday.

Kuroda is 6-12 with a 3.19 ERA but has struggled a bit in his last four starts, going 1-3 while allowing 10 earned runs in 25 1/3 innings. Kuroda’s record can be partially attributed to the Dodgers’ lackluster offense, which ranks 19th in the league in batting average, 20th in slugging and 26th in runs. His 2.64 road ERA makes him appealing, as is his 3.06 interleague ERA. In his only ever start against the Red Sox (June 20, 2010), he struck out nine but gave up two runs in seven innings, losing the game.

Jackson is 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA this season. He has struggled in his career against the Red Sox, going 2-4 with a 5.49 ERA. He is a combined 8-2 against the Rays and Orioles, however, with a 3.06 ERA.

Jackson has struggled at the new Yankee Stadium, going 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, edwin jackson, Hiroki Kuroda,

Trade Deadline: Rays reportedly willing to trade closer Kyle Farnsworth

07.25.11 at 11:46 am ET
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ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted Monday that the Rays are willing to trade closer Kyle Farnsworth. The 35-year-old righty is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 19 saves this season, but he’s also blown four saves.

Farnsworth has only allowed nine earned runs in 40 2/3 innings. He has held batters to a .215 average and .322 slugging. Farnsworth would bring excellent control to any bullpen, striking out four times as many batters as he walks. He has shown a slight vulnerability to left-handed hitters, however, walking seven to just one righty.

Farnsworth also has shown the ability to clamp down with runners in scoring position. Teams are batting .160 off Farnsworth in that situation, and just .125 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

Farnsworth may also add flexibility to a bullpen. Although he’s already saved a career-high 19 games, he’s actually pitched more in the eighth inning than in any other. As a set-up man, Farnsworth has a 4.33 ERA with a .254 BAA and .409 slugging.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Kyle Farnsworth,

Red Sox could look to address future needs at deadline

07.25.11 at 11:40 am ET
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The trade deadline is most commonly used to reinforce a club for the stretch run, but if one merely tries to read the trade tea leaves by looking at the shape of the 2011 Red Sox, it would fail to provide a complete picture of how the team approaches the buildup to July 31. After all, the Sox have made a habit of using the deadline not just to position themselves for the season at hand but also for the following campaign.

A year ago, the team addressed a potential offseason vacancy at the catching position (with Victor Martinez seen as likely to leave as a free agent) by trading for Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the middle of the year. It was a deal that reflected some foresight on the part of the club as well as serendipity to make a long-coveted player available at a low price. (For more on that, click here.) But the deal also underscored an important point: For the Sox, the trade deadline represents one of the few times during the year when you can make deals to address future needs, for a couple of reasons.

First, the deadline stimulates dialogue. Virtually every team is in contact with every other team as July 31 approaches. The result is a fairly complete inventory of available players. Secondly, late-July is a time when teams are engaged in a thorough process of critical self-evaluation, and so important assessments are made by teams about what they will need not just for the duration of an individual season but also beyond it.

Saltalamacchia is perhaps the best example of the Sox making a deadline deal motivated by the future (in no small part because the decision to acquire him was motivated almost solely by concerns for 2011 and beyond, and not by the 2010 campaign in which the trade occurred), but the deal to bring him to Boston from the Rangers is not the only one that the team has made with the future in mind. For instance, the deal to acquire Martinez from the Indians at the 2009 trade deadline reflected the Sox’ need to improve its catching in 2009 and the fact that there was no in-house solution at the position beyond that season; with Martinez, the team was able to acquire an everyday catcher who was under contract through 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, jarrod saltalamacchia, jason bay, victor martinez

Trade Deadline: Mets checking out other farm systems for Carlos Beltran trade?

07.25.11 at 11:14 am ET
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While no deal has been made for Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted Monday that sources have said the delay is due to the Mets still needing to finish their prospect evaluations for other teams. Here’s the full text of the tweet:

Sources: Mets expected to finish evaluation of rival farm systems in next day or two, as they prepare for Beltran deal.

If Olney’s tweet and sources are accurate, it would seem the Mets must be preparing to trade someone on the team. With the Mets having already said they won’t trade shortstop Jose Reyes, Beltran seems the most likely option.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, buster olney, carlos beltran, jose reyes

Monday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Jon Lester vs. Kyle Davies

07.25.11 at 10:41 am ET
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Jon Lester will becoming off the disabled list Monday and make his first start since suffering a left latissimus strain July 8. Lester (10-4, 3.31 ERA) had been on top of his game before getting hurt. In his three most recent starts, the southpaw has a 1.06 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17 innings of work. He should be comfortable making his return start against the Royals, a team he has dominated throughout his career. Lester is 4-1 with a 1.22 ERA and 31 strikeouts against the American League Central foe.

Kansas City will be sending the struggling Kyle Davies to the hill. Davies (1-9, 7.32 ERA) has lost each of his last eight outings. In 12 starts this season, he has yet to allow less than two runs or pitch through the seventh inning. His lone win came in a 10-5 victory over the Twins in which he allowed a season-high 10 hits. He’s currently averaging 12.8 hits, 1.1 home runs and 4.1 walks per nine innings. The list of demoralizing statistics goes on and on. Ironically, Davies brings a 2-0 career record and 4.50 ERA against Boston into the series opener.

Boston’s struggles against Davies  are shown by some of the longer-tenured Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, and Jason Varitek are a combined 2-for-15 against the right-hander. Marco Scutaro and Carl Crawford have had the most success against Davies. Scutaro, who is in his second year in Boston, is 7-for-13 with a pair of longballs in his career against the Royals starter. Crawford, signed by the Sox in the offseason, is 3-for-10 with a home run.

Only former Yankee Melky Cabrera (19) and Billy Butler (9)  have more than three plate appearances against Lester. Cabrera has hit Lester well in his career and enters Mondays’ game 7-for-18 (.389) against the Red Sox starter. Butler,on the other hand, is just 1-for-7 with four strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jon Lester, kansas city royals, Kyle Davies

Trade Deadline: Diamondbacks release Wily Mo Pena

07.25.11 at 9:32 am ET
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The Diamondbacks released former Red Sox slugger Wily Mo Pena on Sunday. Pena was designated for assignment after the All-Star break.

Pena, a 29-year-old right-handed-hitting outfielder, had spent the previous two seasons in Diamondbacks farm system before getting back to the majors in late June. He hit five home runs in 46 major league at-bats (his only extra-base hits), but batted just .196. His lack of speed also makes him a defensive liability, which may also have contributed to his release.

Red Sox fans might remember Pena from his time in Boston in 2006 and 2007. Pena batted .271 in 157 games for the Red Sox, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 59 across his two seasons. The combination of power, poor plate discipline and lack of speed that contributed to his release by the Diamondbacks was visible five years ago. Pena struck out more than four times as often as he walked, and his play in center and right field was at times almost comical. When he connected, however, he showed incredible physical strength and power.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Arizona Diamondbacks, wily mo pena,

Trade Deadline: Indians among teams interested in Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudome?

07.25.11 at 9:28 am ET
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The Indians are among four teams interested in Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, Bruce Lee of ESPNChicago.com reported Sunday afternoon. The 34-year-old Japanese lefty is batting a career-high .272, but his power numbers have dropped off from his three previous seasons, with just three home runs, 13 RBIs and 20 extra-base hits (he averaged 11.3, 52 and 42.3 over the previous three seasons). His batting average also has been steadily declining since late April.

Fukudome, a 2008 All-Star, has a limited no-trade clause that would let him block trades to six teams, but Lee did not write whether the Indians or any of the other three unnamed teams are on that list.

Lee wrote that Fukudome will still have $4.3 million left on his $14.5 million salary this season, but also said that the Cubs might pay some of that should they get the right prospects in return.

While Fukudome’s .369 career OBP makes him an appealing trade candidate, his defensive abilities in right and center field may be his best asset. He leads the NL in several advanced fielding statistics, including total zone runs overall and as an outfielder.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Kosuke Fukudome,

Carl Crawford looks like himself again and Red Sox are pretty happy about it

07.24.11 at 7:46 pm ET
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Terry Francona knows his players better than anyone. And when the Red Sox manager said before Sunday’s game that he could tell Carl Crawford was looking more and more comfortable taking the ball to left field, he was on to something.

Crawford went 3-for-4 Sunday with a walk in Boston’s 12-8 romp over the Mariners that completed a three-game sweep and moved the Red Sox to a season-best 25 games over .500 at 62-37. And sure enough, all three hits went to left field and his average is now up to .254 in 73 games, an increase of 100 points since the end of April.

While there’s been plenty of attention paid to the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez at the top of the order, Crawford has steadily cemented his place as the most important and productive batter right now in the bottom half.

Before he injured his left hamstring running out an infield grounder on June 17 vs. the Brewers, Crawford had steadily shown improvement and a willingness to accept his place as the team’s 6-hole hitter. There were those who worried that he might lose his timing and rhythm on the disabled list.

Not Francona.

‘€œYou have to give him a lot of credit,” Francona said. “While he was down, he worked real hard. We weren’€™t really worried about his legs because he’€™s worked so hard and he looked like he was moving around so much. He did so much hitting and he’€™s come back and gotten really comfortable real quick and that’€™s really helpful to us. So many times, you play a guy and you have to kind of let him ease his way in and get his at-bats but he’€™s been helping us right from the first game back.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, jarrod saltalamacchia, MLB

Terry Francona celebrates with a grilled cheese

07.24.11 at 7:23 pm ET
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Safe to say win No. 1,001 in the managerial career of Terry Francona came a little easier than No. 1,000.

The Red Sox pounded the hapless, woeful and woebegone Mariners for 17 hits and 12 runs in a 12-8 triumph Sunday at Fenway that ‘€” as they say ‘€” wasn’t really that close.

But the day before the Red Sox skipper had to sweat out a 3-1 nail biter for his grand entrance into an exclusive MLB managerial club.

So how did he celebrate after getting doused with the beer from David Ortiz? Steak, champagne? Not quite.

“I had a grilled cheese sandwich,” Francona joked Sunday. “I always have a grilled cheese sandwich.”

But what Francona really appreciated wasn’t the food or beverage but the roasting and toasting via messages of all types he received from family and friends throughout baseball.

“The prevailing thought seems to be that people are surprised I’m still here,” Francona said. “I got that more than anything. I got some nice messages from people that mean a lot to me so that was nice. That actually made me feel better than anything.

“I think it’s pretty obvious. I was honored and I was proud but I’m a lot more comfortable talking about our guys and our team. I just think that’s the way it should be. I did feel good.”

One thing Francona made pretty clear is that – despite being with a great organization that wins year in and year out ‘€” he doesn’t see challenging the likes of Tony La Russa, who leads all active managers with 2,691 wins.

“You have to remember, it’s a round number but then you start looking at some of those other guys, you need to hush up because there are some guys with some pretty big numbers that are still managing,” Francona said. “So, it’s actually kind of humbling a little bit. It makes you realize how long they’ve been doing it and how hard it is to win.

“How many wins does Tony La Russa have? I would be willing to bet that if you see my name with [2,691], there’ll be an asterisk. I’ll be dead. That’ll be quite an accomplishment.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, MLB, skipper
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